Friday, December 6, 2013

In Which I Take Something Super Easy and Make It Slightly Less So

I suppose it could be worse. And the thing in question is the Harper Jacket pattern, so I'm likely to relate a couple of sewing stories over the next few days. (Those of you who can't bear to hear another thing about my knitting - score!)

OK, here's the pattern:

Style Arc Harper Jacket
It's one of those jackets-meets-sweater things that are incredibly useful in Canada. There's not a lot written about it, I have to say. I've only found one post (a very helpful one), but its writer is a woman who couldn't be more differently shaped than me. She seems quite tall and long in her proportions.

One of the fundamental differences between our efforts is that she actually lengthened the jacket. I, on the other hand (and being incapable of sewing anything out of the envelope, apparently), had to shorten each piece by 2 inches.

I made the size 10, which I was worried might be to small, but seriously, I think going up a size would have made the shoulder-width and arm circumference too large. This is not fitted below the high bust, so I qualify as a true "small" for the purposes of this pattern. I mean, I had to shorten everything even given it's a size 10?!
Note that I have no idea if I shortened the front piece (that weird looking one on the left) appropriately. Mind you, the shape of the finished piece is the same as the original was and I lined up the armsyces in order to ensure I made the same adjustment on the front as on the back piece. Here's hoping my "special sewing sense" is working. In order to true the front piece, once I messed with the length, I actually added 5/8" below the shorten line. You can see it on the right lower half. I had the option to true by removing fabric at the upper part of the piece, but given my full bust measurement, I felt I needed to add width below the shorten line rather than subtract width above it. A tape measure seems to corroborate this.

I could have taken more off the length of all of these pieces (like another inch) but I was afraid to go overboard. And besides, it's not like every first garment isn't a muslin. Don't kid yourself. It is. Hopefully, however, this one will be wearable in the end.

One of the ways in which I hope this pattern will work on my behalf - in the way it might NOT for a tall person who doesn't want to add bust volume - is that the length of the front piece dictates the amount of volume in the ruffles at the centre front. Wow, awkward sentence. Sorry.

What I mean is, when I shortened the piece, given the construction of the centre front, I removed some of the ruffleability (I believe) by removing inches of length. It remains to be seen if the result would be more pronounced (while still fitting my frame) if I'd removed width above the shorten line (see 2 paragraphs up). I guess this is where the muslin premise comes in.

Those armscyes look kind of long to me, but I measured them against another, well-fitting, similarly constructed RTW sweater and it seems its armsyces are almost the exact same depth. Hopefully I'm mistaken in my concern.

I really like the one-size pattern, gotta say. It's very clean. I don't love cutting around a zillion lines and I usually end up making similar adjustments to all of my patterns - none of which are facilitated by zillions of extra lines denoting other sizes. What I mean is, I don't get a lot of value from the multi-sized patterns because I don't really straight-grade from one size to another. Moreover, if I need to do so, I just make it up. I mean, those are linear adjustments that really are pretty straight forward.

Anyway, here's the fabric I'll use for the Harper Jacket:

It's a 2-way stretch double knit from Gorgeous Fabrics and it's got a nice drape and hand. I will say that the colour is in no way what my computer monitor led me to expect. It's lighter and less jewel-toned than I hoped it would be. But, since I'm not head-over-heels (and yet its properties align well with those required for this pattern - dense, firm knit with some heft but not so much that the drape will be inhibited), I feel free to use it and enjoy it for whatever result it yields. Don't misunderstand, it's a very nice fabric and I'm sure many sewists would find many uses for it. It's one of those knits, I suspect, that looks at its best in a finished garment. It would be really great as pants, I imagine.

So, there you go. What do you think? Have you made this jacket? Do my alterations seem like they'll work (those of you who can turn pics of paper into 3D objects in your mind)? Do you like it? Let's talk!


  1. Without seeing what the original pattern piece is shaped like I'm wondering why you chose to shorten at an angle rather than perpendicular to the grain, which is the norm? And not only angled but angled in the opposite direction of the original hem.

    I just took a second look at the altered pieces and if you had shortened perpendicular to the grain it would have folded out at the same angle as the hem. That's based on some lines I can see you've drawn below the grain line.
    I personally would have taken it directly off the bottom and widened at the hips if needed. That would have maintained the upper drape which is the whole point of the pattern!

    1. Hey Debbie: I'll take a photo of the envelope drawing which shows the shape of the original pattern piece. I completely maintained its shape because I took the excess out on the bias. If I'd gone on the straight of grain the pattern shape would have changed (I think). Furthermore, it would have made it difficult to retain equal length on both front and back side seam. (I think I could have done it on straight of grain, but then I'd have to have removed a wedge - I think. I'm going to consider what you've said more carefully (it's hard for me to imagine everything right off the bat). Depending on how the one I've already cut works out, I may well try things this way the next time! Thanks for your comment.

    2. The pattern shape wouldn't have changed if you'd have taken it out parallel to the grain. It would have just been shorter which was your goal.

      After thinking about it I also realized the way you shortened it affects the length that's available to snap the front at the neck.

      You could try to do it the way I suggested and compare the two pieces against the original. I'm pretty good with pattern alterations and honestly something's just not sitting right with this one.

      You could do the easy thing and email Trudy at Style Arc. She's really good about getting back to you. Or so I've read. I haven't tried one of her patterns yet!

    3. OK, I have more fabric so I'll undo the fold in the pattern piece and try it the way you suggest. I'll compare them both. One of the reasons that I feel (sort of) confident shortening on the diagonal is that the front piece shape I end up with is of almost the same dimensions as my RTW waterfall cardigan. Since I know that one fits the way I want, and this piece seems almost of the same dimensions, it seems like it will work. But, of course, I'm open to advice! Stay tuned.

  2. oooh can't wait to see this one! i really like this pattern. living in new england i totally understand the usefulness of the jacket/cardigan. and i had initially thought the single size thing was kind of a negative, but anymore i do less size blending and more slashing and spreading/overlapping to get a good fit. and being tall i rarely have to shorten pieces so i'm no help there!

    1. You know, the multi sized patterns are great if you want to trace and make things for multiple people in multiple sizes. But I don't really think that all of those extra lines help you to fit yourself. That happens on the basis of the work you do to understand fitting and alterations. It's "getting" the alteration that's hard, not drawing the 2 or three cut lines that make the difference. I really hope this works, btw. of course, I'll keep you posted.

  3. I had thought that Stacy from had made this jacket up, but I'm wondering if it was one of the last posts from her crashed website, because I can't find it now. I wish I could though, because she's built a bit more like you--petite and slim.

    Anyway, hope your adjustments work out, though I'm sure they will. :-) And also--thank goodness for more sewing!! Knitting is cool too, but it's like reading a foreign language that I don't know with all those terms and acronyms and such. ;-)

    1. I don't think it's up there anymore, sadly. And hey, I like any comment that refers to me as slim! :-) I'll get back to the sewing posts after the hols - at which point I won't be able to stand to knit anything else :-)